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Allegations posted on Facebook yesterday against a Taylor Police officer who was questioning a man at the I-94-Telegraph Road interchange have been proven to be fictitious.
After viewing the secure dash cam video from the patrol car of the entire incident, Taylor Police Chief John Blair said, "from the time the officer initiated the police citizen contact, he never touched the individual or his property. The officer maintained his professionalism the entire time."
The officer pulled off the road and parked under the bridge near the interchange to question the man, who was panhandling on the westbound exit off the freeway, right next to the traffic lane.
The Facebook poster alleges that the officer took the panhandler’s coffee away from him and threw it into the street; threw him against the vehicle; forcefully removed his coat; and dumped out the contents of his backpack. The poster published the allegations with a still photograph that only showed the officer questioning the man. The police video of the actual incident clearly shows that none of these allegations and statements occurred.
"The individual never had a coffee in his hand, wasn't even wearing a coat, and maintained control of his backpack during the entire encounter", explained Chief Blair.
What the video does show is that the officer approached the panhandler, walked with him back under the bridge to his patrol car near Telegraph, and questioned him. The officer instructed the man to place his hands on the hood of the police car, thus keeping them in view while he conducted a records check. After running a recorder’s check, it was found that there was an outstanding felony warrant against the man in another state, which took some time to clear up. At no time does the officer mishandle the panhandler or his property.
“We take complaints seriously and complete detailed investigations about them, as we did in this incident,” Police Chief John Blair said. “Upon speaking with our officer and reviewing his in-car camera, we find these allegations to be completely false and unfounded. The video clearly shows the entire encounter and at no time does the officer take a coffee from the individual, throw him against our police car, dump out his backpack, rip off his coat, or dump his belongs on the ground.”
Unfortunately, the social media post received plenty of attention before the poster eventually took it down several hours later. Mayor Rick Sollars reminds residents that trust in law enforcement works both ways.
“We believe in transparency,” he said. “We want our officers to conduct themselves in a professional manner and be held accountable for their actions. The relationship between law enforcement officials and the people that they serve involves trust. When someone does something wrong, we want to know about it and deal with it appropriately. However, fictitious social media posts like this are very unfortunate and unfair to the vast majority of outstanding police officers throughout our country.”